How to secure your online identity
There are lots of stories about different types of personal data thefts every day. Various types of media leaks, banking & bio-metrical data thefts are common. Identity theft-related crimes cost more than $50B per year and this is something you should also consider.
Different types of companies around the globe spend incredible amounts of their budget to prevent any kind of data leaks or data theft. However, what can a regular internet user like you do in order to feel safe while browsing the internet?
The purpose of this article is to introduce you to the main threats while you are browsing the internet. Also, we will provide some interesting information about the possible damage you could receive if you don’t take any action. It is always better to be safe than sorry, right?
1. Keep your personal information to yourself.
This might be a very basic thing, but it sure seems that lots of people forget where they submit their personal information (e.g. addresses, family info, banking info such as credit card information).
Just to let you know, there are only a few cases where you actually need to put your real personal information: banking page, work, or medical-related sites. Otherwise, none of the websites should ask any kind of personal information.
Nowadays, there are lots of scam/phishing websites where cyber-criminals try to collect random people’s information by lying about the real purpose of the site. One of the most common cases are fake lottery sites or software download sites, where sometimes you even need to submit a copy of your passport. That’s just nonsense!
So, if you’re asking: what kind of things can a cyber-criminal do with my personal information such as street name, address, birth date? The answer is – they can do a lot. Example: sensitive information is commonly used to protect various social media and different platforms (such as Netflix) accounts.
By knowing any kind of private information, it is super easy to steal any kind of account by resetting its password. By the way, no strangers should know your home address or your mother’s name in the first place.
2. Password strength
Password strength and difficulty are some of the most important things when you are creating an account somewhere. There are two main rules that you have to follow:
1) The password should be unique and it should NOT overlap/duplicate other accounts or websites. Of course, having lots of information in your head is difficult, but we’ll speak on how to solve this issue just a bit later.
2) Do not use the most popular passwords. There is a list of officially most commonly used passwords. You can find it here. Four out of ten readers should be able to find their passwords there.
Your password should not contain any of this information:
– First or names
– Birth dates/months
– Pet names
What is a strong password? A super-strong password consists of at least eight characters ( the more symbols you have, the stronger it is). You should include at least one upper case letter, a number, and a symbol such as @, #, &, ! or any other you like of prefer.
Okay, as nowadays people use lots of different social media sites and platforms, how to remember all the passwords you created? Simple! Since 2017, password manager applications became really popular, and more and more people start using them. A Password Manager is simply a wallet for all the passwords and accounts you created in one place.
The best free password managers in 2019
3. Secure browsing.
Nowadays, where public Wi-Fi available in lots of open spaces, it became really popular to steal data through unsecured internet networks. Of course, you should always have your Firewall on, but that is not enough and you should take extra steps in order to strengthen your privacy.
If you ask what is the way to completely protect yourself if you are using the internet through a public Wi-Fi connection, the answer is simply don’t. The best option is to use your mobile device as a hotspot.
However, if you don’t have a device with mobile data, there is another option of what you can do in order to minimize the risk of being hacked: use a VPN.
If you don’t know what a VPN is, you can read a complete VPN guide. It is a great tool that not only helps you to prevent snoopers while browsing the internet, but it also allows you to by-pass geo-restrictions or changes your public (visible) IP.
Our TOP 3 best-recommended VPN’s:
4. Safe shopping
E-commerce is booming and lots of shopping is done online. Before inserting your credit card details, make sure the site is reliable. The website should also take care of your privacy from their side. One of the most important factors is that a secure e-commerce shop MUST have an SSL certificate installed.
You can easily check that without any tools, simply take a look at the address bar. All SSL secured sites have a “lock” symbol right beside its address:
Also, spend some time and do research about the e-store you’re about to spend your money in. There are lots of review sites and other factors (e.g. supported payment providers) which will allow you to make sure that the website is legit. We recommend taking a look at trustpilot.com, as there are lots of real user reviews and they can’t edit, remove, or fake comments out there.
5. Be aware of what kind of data is collected
Nowadays, internet service, game, or app providers are constantly looking for ways on how to monetize their traffic/user base. We are used to the fact that app/game developers outlast by just selling their actual product or service, however, this has changed a few years ago.
Advertising through their products became a good source of revenue and now some of the tech companies even provide free software just to collect as big user base as possible. Why? To collect the data and to sell it for more cash than the actual app would cost.
Of course, we know that reading privacy policies and terms is a very boring thing to do, but we definitely suggest you look at the app/service subscription before you download or use it. It must say what kind of data is logged and stored, so you will be aware of what kind of risk you’re putting yourself into.
These are the five basic steps on how you can secure your personal information and reduce the risk of identity theft. No one is 100% safe and you never know when can bad things happen. However, you should definitely do what it takes from your side to secure your personal information.